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Facts on...CDC's Screening Lead Poisoning in Young Children: Guidance for State and Local Public Health Officials

CDC first published guidance on the prevention of childhood lead poisoning in 1975. CDC has issued updates to these guidelines in 1978, 1985, and 1991. Each new edition has incorporated new scientific and practical information on how best to reduce the adverse effects of lead on the health of young children.

This current guidance, entitled Screening Young Children for Lead Poisoning: Guidance for State and Local Public Health Officials is narrower in scope than previous editions. CDC maintains its position that lead exposure is a major preventable childhood health problem throughout the U.S. The guidance makes recommendations to improve the effectiveness of lead screening.

  • The guidelines are written for state and local public health officials who will make screening recommendations for their jurisdictions. Other audiences include public health agencies, health care organizations including managed-care organizations, pediatricians and other providers of health care to children.
  • The guidance is designed to assist informed and inclusive decision-making at the state and local level and discusses state and local planning for lead screening.
  • The recommendations in this guidance are intended to increase screening and follow-up care for children who most need these services while ensuring that prevention approaches are appropriate to local conditions.
  • The guidance primarily covers the screening and management of young children from birth to 72 months of age who are potentially exposed to lead. It also discusses anticipatory guidance for pregnant women that is aimed at reducing their children's exposure to lead and the screening and management of older children who are at risk of lead exposure, for example, children with excessive mouthing activity.
  • The document also includes general guidance for child health-care providers about their roles in preventing childhood lead poisoning. Child health-care providers should follow the screening recommendations made by the health department of the state in which they practice.

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